Everything Two Years Old is New Again (Marc Laferriere, @MarcLaferriere)

                 This month marks our 24th edition.  When we started, we said that The Brant Advocate was going to be a voice for the stories of Brant. And in the last 2 years we’ve kept our promise. We’ve been able to showcase over 500 pieces of local content in the paper, on our website and social media and with our podcast. That’s 500 local stories that we’ve been able to help find an audience. It’s been wonderful for us – along with our contributors, advertisers and readers  to help provide a stage for some great stories.

                Our community is wonderful. It truly is – and yes, there are always going to be challenges, but we, as a community, shine brightest when we face those challenges together. If The Brant Advocate is about anything it is about teamwork. Recently I was asked to speak at a strategic planning meeting for Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications. They wanted me to talk about building community by using media. I started to speak about how The Brant Advocate came together.

                When talking about it I realized something: it shouldn’t have worked. Creating a successful and independent print publication, in an era where many say print is dying, shouldn’t have worked. Relying on crowd sourcing for the content shouldn’t have worked. Black and white prints shouldn’t have worked. Partnerships with other local media like the Brant News and Sputnik shouldn’t have worked. Doing it in a mid-sized area like Brant shouldn’t have worked. But it did and we have you to thank.

                So thank you. Truly.

                What do we have on tap for year 3? The edition you hold in your hand is in our new format. Everything has to change over time and we think this new format will help with readability and portability. You’ll no longer have to open The Brant Advocate like you would a road map.  We will miss the old-time feel of our previous broadsheet format, but we’re really excited about the design possibilities our new format allows for.

                We’re growing our circulation as well in order to have more editions in homes across the region and in many local businesses.  Increasing our monthly print numbers is a huge milestone for us and we are confident this is the beginning of a trend.

                On the digital front, our website, social media and podcast are all growing each and every week thanks to your support. People want to engage with their media and with local stories – and we’re happy many of you are choosing to spend your online time with The Brant Advocate.

                And of course there is the big announcement from our cover. Advocate Television is coming to Rogers TV this fall. We’re excited to work with the folks at Rogers who have had us on numerous times over the last 2 years to promote the stories of The Brant Advocate.  Now, with the television show, we can explore these stories in another medium and shine a light on some people you know, some people you don’t and some people you thought you knew.

                As someone who originally started a relationship with Rogers TV during a high school co-op many moons ago, and has been a part of many of their shows in the intervening years, I’m happy to say the courtship has finally turned into a marriage. It’s just another way to put a spotlight on some of the fascinating stories of our community. We couldn’t be more excited and look forward to your reaction.

                And that leaves me with one last note for you. Be heard. This project wouldn’t have happened without people in Brantford, Brant and Six Nations putting pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboards to share the things that make this community tick. Please keep it up. We want to hear from you and we want to publish your work so that we can continue this big community conversation we’ve been having for the last 2 years.

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